|New Polls (Aug. 10-13)|
(With Leaners/ Without Leaners)
|Colorado||Public Policy Polling||+4|
|North Carolina||Survey USA||+4|
|Pennsylvania||Franklin & Marshall||+8 /+5|
That should serve as a hint that, surprisingly, it was not Nevada that moved over to McCain as a result of the Rasmussen poll that gave the Arizona senator a slight lead in the Silver state. And hey, it was less than 24 hours ago that I lamented the fact that Nevada had not been polled in almost a month. I still think that Nevada has been under-polled given how close it appears. Let's sink some of the resources that have been sunk into (over-)surveying New York and put that into Nevada. The Empire state ain't movin' folks. I expect it to be an easy win for Obama on November 4. Nevada, however, is a close state. By our measure, it is now the closest state, surpassing Ohio to claim that distinction. But I'll save that discussion for when we get to the Electoral College Spectrum below.
|Changes (Aug. 10-13)|
|Alaska||McCain lean||Toss Up McCain|
With that small rant over, let's shift the focus to Alaska. The Last Frontier (I'm not a Star Trek fan, but I have to fight my subconscious every time I type that. Alaska is not, in fact, the Final Frontier.) on the weight of two new polls moves into the toss up category. That Ivan Moore poll from late July slipped under the radar somehow, but at least I wasn't the only one to miss it. Of course Nate Silver is reporting that poll as having a 2.4 point margin. His link to the poll is dead now and everyone else seems to be reporting it as a 3 point margin. Pushing that point aside for the moment, Alaska is now close enough to be considered a toss up. Yikes if you're McCain. This is a state that Bush won by 25 points in 2004. That's over 20 points that Alaska as slid since November 2004. Now, just to be clear, Alaska still favors McCain but has inched closer to Obama based on these two polls. Bush's approval (of lack thereof) and the Stevens' indictment have put a distinct blemish on the Republican brand in the state and that has translated into the presidential trial heats drawing closer together. [Just for the sake of transparency -- or at least accurate reporting -- I should note that the Moore poll was released a full week before that indictment was handed down.]
Alaska moved and Nevada didn't, so the shift I expected when I saw the new Silver state poll (but before I imputed it into the state's weighted average) didn't actually happen. As a result the electoral vote tallies for each candidate remain unchanged. McCain, though, loses three more electoral votes from the lean plus strong state total that is, by our estimation, safer for the moment. That total comes to 154 electoral votes for McCain which is over twenty electoral votes fewer now than what Obama has in just his strong category (175 EVs). And that brings into even starker contrast the difference between where McCain-Obama stand in regard to the Electoral College Spectrum (ECS) and where Bush and Kerry were four years ago at this time. The intensity of support for Bush has certainly given way to a far different picture for the Republican standard bearer in 2008. If Obama can force McCain to play defense in those eight states (86 EVs), McCain will be at a distinct disadvantage as we near the heart of this campaign. I have no idea what Obama's schedule is coming off his vacation -- he does have a running mate to name -- but would a quick trip to Alaska be that out of the way? That sort of move could turn 5 point poll leads in the state into more than just an outlier. Granted, driving back from my own vacation in late July, I saw a truck with Alaska tags that sported a "NObama!" bumper sticker. That isn't representative of the entire state but I'm willing to err on the side of caution and give the GOP some credit in a state that has only voted for a Democratic presidential candidate once in its history (LBJ in 1964).
|The Electoral College Spectrum*|
|*Follow the link for a detailed explanation on how to read the Electoral College Spectrum.|
**The numbers in the parentheses refer to the number of electoral votes a candidate would have if he won all the states ranked prior to that state. If, for example, McCain won all the states up to and including Colorado (all Obama's toss up states, but Michigan), he would have 299 electoral votes. Both candidates numbers are only totaled through their rival's toss up states. In those cases, Obama's number is on the left and McCain's is on the right in italics.
***Pennsylvania is the state where Obama crosses (or McCain would cross) the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidential election. That state is referred to as the victory line.
Alaska jumps both Florida and North Carolina on the ECS in the process of becoming a toss up, but with so many new polls being released there were a few shake ups, though, nothing major. Nevada is so close to being a tie now that it jumped Ohio, becoming the least blue state. Those two, along with Virginia are the most closely contested states at this point according to our weighted averages. And even with three polls, Virginia held steady; now firmly within the area that would put the state on the Watch List. Outside of that Pennsylvania is the only other state of note. The Keystone state nearly ceded its position as the Victory Line to New Hampshire. The two are separated by only two one-hundredths of a point. However, I should add one caveat since Pennsylvania is part of the discussion. Franklin and Marshall reported both their likely voter numbers and registered voter numbers in their Pennsylvania poll. Most are reporting that poll as a 5 point Obama advantage, but FiveThirtyEight has decided to use the registered voter numbers and is reporting the 8 point margin among that sample group. Here's the thing: I don't particularly want to wade into this debate here, but I will be open about how each of those results affects the average. With the likely voters 5 point margin, Pennsylvania is not as close to New Hampshire's average (two tenths of a point instead of two one-hundredths), but the 8 point, registered voter margin pushes the commonwealth's average right up against the Granite state's.
|The Watch List*|
|Alaska||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Florida||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Georgia||from McCain lean||to Strong McCain|
|Minnesota||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|Mississippi||from Strong McCain||to McCain lean|
|Nevada||from Toss Up Obama||to Toss Up McCain|
|New Mexico||from Obama lean||to Toss Up Obama|
|North Carolina||from Toss Up McCain||to McCain lean|
|Ohio||from Toss Up Obama||to Toss Up McCain|
|Virginia||from Toss Up McCain||to Toss Up Obama|
|Washington||from Strong Obama||to Obama lean|
|Wisconsin||from Obama lean||to Toss Up Obama|
|*Weighted Average within a fraction of a point of changing categories.|
Pennsylvania, though, is comfortably within the range of toss up states, but it is trending away from the Partisan line and thus not close enough to be included on the Watch List. The states most likely shift to categories (or across partisan distinctions) have added two states since Sunday. Alaska's new polls put the state on the Watch, but only barely so. Actually, Alaska's presence on the list depends on whether you use the 3 point margin in the Moore poll or the 2.4 point margin (mentioned above) that Nate Silver has reported. The 2.4 point margin would lower the average enough to pull Alaska off the list entirely. As it is, with the three point margin, the Last Frontier is right on the line between categories. Wisconsin slips on to the Watch as well. That five point Obama advantage in the latest Strategic Vision poll out of the Badger state continues a pattern of tighter, yet comfortably Obama, polls. Wisconsin has hovered around the line between lean and toss up for most of this cycle, so this isn't a shock. The state is getting tighter though.
At some point I'd like to address how wide the gaps are between some of these categories, but that point isn't today. Since I've brought in the Wednesday polls to this update, I may have created less work for myself on the weekend update. If that proves to be true I'll make some statements about those spreads then. It would certainly help our understanding of both the Electoral College Spectrum and the Watch List.
2008 vs. 2004, Part II: What Happened in the Final 100 Days in 2004 and What That May Mean for the Rest of This Campaign
2008 vs. 2004, Part I: What Things Would Have Looked Like 4 Years Ago This Time
The Electoral College Spectrum